Tax should not be seen as a burden, say churches
Quakers are supporting Church Action for Tax Justice (CAT), a new movement for tax justice, launched recently in the House of Lords.
CAT seeks to inspire churches to work for a fairer and more effective tax system, where democratic governments set fair taxes and individuals and corporations pay their share.
Church figures and politicians attended the launch. They included, from the House of Lords and House of Commons, Rowan Williams, Richard Harries and Margaret Hodge, and also Methodist President- elect Revd Michaela Youngson and Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain.
We need to see it as a positive tool to build a more just society where resources are more equally shared and good services exist for all.- Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain
Rowan Williams chairs Christian Aid, one of the CAT partners. Ahead of the launch, he said, “It is timely. If businesses really believe – and want others to believe – that what they do builds genuine, shared prosperity in countries that need it, they should be eager to support fairer tax systems and to play their full part in creating the sustainable infrastructure that such regimes make possible. For this transparency is essential, and it is good that we are already seeing progress in this area. But we can do better and it is urgent that we do so."
Why are Quakers supporting CAT?
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain is asking for tough questions and provoking public debate. He said, “Quakers believe that there is something of God in everyone and all are of equal worth. Our faith leads us to say that all too often tax is seen as a burden to be minimised. In fact, we need to see it as a positive tool to build a more just society where resources are more equally shared and good services exist for all."
“The evidence suggests we are not raising enough tax income to build the society we and the public wants," he said. “The gap is between £40bn and a staggering £85bn every year. This means raising more in taxes. Reducing tax dodging won't on its own be enough."
Quaker faith has led to numerous statements over the decades, including this in 2012, when Meeting for Sufferings, the standing representative body of Quakers in Britain, approved this statement:
“… Quakers strive to uphold the values of justice and equality in the face of spending cuts that increase poverty and have a disproportionate effect on the poorest among us. Sacrifices shared can strengthen our society. We urge policy makers to address the deficit through a fairer tax system and measures that increase solidarity. …"
CAT has developed out of the Methodist Tax Justice Network.
What are the aims of the campaign?
- End secrecy in tax havens, like the British Virgin Islands
- Call on churches to vigorously use their power as investors in major companies
- Encourage Christian and all faith bodies to promote tax justice
Vodafone's decision to publish its country-by-country reports from 2019 onwards is seen as a success of the global movement for tax justice.